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Acura MDX Transmission Problems



  • well it looks like i'm the lastest victim of this mdx debacle! please include me in the class action suit that's LONG overdue. like a fool, i trusted acura. i've owned a honda for 13 years and only had routine maintenance done on it. i THOUGHT buying an mdx was a step up. boy, was i wrong. i'm just beginning my quest for justice in having my transmission repaired. good luck to me. judging by all your other stories, i'm going to need it. i'll keep you posted.
    ript off in DE
  • KPSmith, I have a 2004 MDX and just got hit with a $5k quote to replace the transmission due to a long standing shudder problem. I'd like to talk with you about how you presented the similar cases to the dealer, and where you found them,.
  • duke39duke39 Posts: 6

    That's weird.....A transmission problem in an Acura.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Please don't include your email address in postings to the Forums.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • m3macm3mac Posts: 1
    We bought our 2004 mdx from a third party with around 50K miles on it a little over a year ago. Discovered very faint noise in transmission at around 80K. I was hard to reproduce for our general mechanic, but over the last 10K miles it got much worse and we were also quoted around $3K to replace the converter two days ago.

    Needless to say, we're very upset about this when we found this out.

    Found this forum by googling acura 2004 torque converter so we could learn about it. How can I get involved with any class action suit etc for this matter?

  • titovalenciatitovalencia Posts: 1
    edited October 2010
    Hey Everyone...

    I too am having major issues with my transmission shuddering and vibrating on my 2004 Acura MDX. I had purchased this vehicle with 50k miles on it and currently have 104k miles on it. I've been experiencing the vibrations over the last couple of months and took it into the Acura Dealership.

    I have done some research and took in some service bulletins with me and the Acura Service Consultant, before taking a look at the vehicle, was trying to talk me out of having a Service Tech take a look at it. He said it would be a waste of money because they KNEW that the transmission wouldn't be covered if it was bad. He said he was looking out for me...oh pleeease. I had a Service Tech diagnose the vehicle, and lo and behold, it was the torque converter issue everyone here is dealing with. I also requested for a goodwill replacement for the transmission because this is a huge issue that Acura is dealing with...he did submit the goodwill replacement reluctantly, but said it was a long shot.

    See, I currently own a 2004 Acura MDX and TL and have been a Honda Owner and Supporter for 10 years...but the level of service, or lack thereof, is making me second guess purchasing future vehicles from them.

    I'm currently waiting on a response from the District Service Manager and it's been two weeks, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't know what to do here, I can't afford a $2.5k-$4k replacement, times are tough.

    I just can't believe Acura/Honda is completely ignoring an issue....what's it going to take for them to recall these bad accident? or worse?

    If there's a class action suit....COUNT ME IN!
  • Anyway, what worked for me, was presenting the dealer with a ton of documentation on the Honda Pilot / Acura MDX Transmission problem. Not only the forum info, but also the NHSTA data (see my forum message above showing the statistics). Here is link for NHSTA:

    The dealer immediately suggested I open a case file with Honda America, which I did. I also presented the rep at Honda with all my documentation. Their standard procedure is to deny claims for vehicles that are out of warranty. You have to keep insisting that your claim be taken to the next level, including arbitration. I also presented them with the Acura Service Bulletin for 2003 and 2004 MDX for the torque converter problem, which should have also applied to 2005. Here is the link for the service bulliten:

    It will take many phone calls back and forth with the Honda rep that is assigned to your case file. You must be patient and keep insisting you are not satisfied. They may at some point offer to pay for 25%, 50% or 75%. I held out and got them to pay 100%. They knew I was not going to give up when I said I would take my claim all the way to arbitration, if necessary.

    Several forum members have stated that they have had to replace the torque converter more than once. If I were to do it over again I would have pushed for a rebuilt transmission with a 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty.

    One last thought. There are several forums on the Internet that you can refer too regarding this issue. Listed are a couple to check out:

    I hope this info helps. It took me 4-6 weeks of discussion with Honda/Acura to get my repair done. I will probably sell my 2005 MDX while it is working. No telling when the torque converter may fail again!
  • Has this issue been resolved in the 2010 model?
  • Sadly, I was told by my dealer that I am one of the "first transmission issues with the newer MDX" ... guess they didn't fix the problem. My car in the dealer waiting for the part ... 1 month. I've asked for replacement loaner vehicle, and extended warranty from Corporate ... anyone had any experience or advice around this? Also, should I assume that the rest of the transmission could be faulty, or do you think the converter replacement will "do the trick"? Thanks.
  • I have a 2010 MDX I have had for less than a month and has 1,200 miles on it and I experienced a major transmission problem and my check engine light came on. The automatic transmission was shifting at around 1 to 1.5 RPM; so there was not any good acceleration, then the transmission started slipping and the check engine light and a transmission warning came up on the screen, don't recall what it says, my car is at the dealer now. Any ways I am very distraught and don't want my car back, because I don't want to deal with ongoing issues. For the amount of money I paid (around $48,000 loaded) I want a new car instead of mine back fixed; what year is yours?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited October 2010
    A large segment, a very large segment, of the FWD manufacturers have adopted some form or another of this "new" Pre-emptive F/awd system. Pre-emptive..automatically engage the rear drive coupling in situations wherein it is most likely that loss of traction, wheelspin/slip, and subsequent loss of directional control might occur and therefore might potentially lead to an accident and injuries and even death.

    A.) Engage the rear drive coupling upon any level of low speed acceleration, distribute the engine drive torque over more than just the front wheels.

    B.) When turning, turning tightly, turning under acceleration, turning tightly under acceleration.

    These new F/awd systems make no note/adjustment for roadbed traction conditions so a HIGH level of pre-emptive engine drive coupling may result, and often does result, on a serious level of drive line windup and/or tire scrubbing unless the traction surface has a lot of "give", slipperiness.

    "...Has this issue been resolved in the 2010 model..?"

    Apparently not.

    According to the 2011 MDX owners manual there is a temperature sensor in the rear differential that is used to WARN the driver of a marginal operating condition. The driver is instructed to pull off the road, shift into neutral and let the engine idle until the indication goes out.

    And what if the driver doesn't heed those instructions..?

    In Ford's case, the Escape F/awd, they simply disabled the F/awd system if the rear coupling continued its upward temperature climb. But that didn't seem to help overall as the PTO (apparently the weakest link in the Ford Escape's F/awd system) began to "fail-over" left and right. The new 2011 F/awd Ford Explorer has now added engine coolant flow to abate the PTO failures.

    Personally I would recommend removing the SH-AWD fuse except at times when the need for the SH-AWD system is predicted, predictable.

    No inadvertent driveline stress and/or tire scrubbing on tractive surfaces = no "weakest" link failures, Ford PTO, MDX torque converter (most likely the TC's lock-up clutch).
  • ilesanilesan Posts: 2
    b30 I have the same problem with my 2001 MDX with 120K miles. Did the power control board solved your problem?
  • We have a 2003 MDX and i have noticed that the transmission? kind of shudders at about 1500 rpm and the tach jumps up about 200 rpm goes away when i accelerate. Just turned 98k miles and after reading some of these posts i think there may be a serious problem developing. It has done this for at least a year now. The nearest Acura dealer is 90 miles away so i just can't stop by. Is there anything that can be done to extend the life like an oil and filter change? Some have received assistance from this still a possibility or do i have to wait until the transmission completely fails? We almost traded for a 2008 MDX but now got second thoughts.
  • Have you heard back from the dealer yet? Has your transmission failed and if not can we just replace the torque converter? One last question...where did you get the information about the transmission problem?
  • the inevitable is coming and some are on their 3rd tranny. if you have the money, ditch the car while you can still drive it in and get a fair trade. If you trade it when it arrives on a flatbed, you don't have any room to negotiate. And, verify that the 2008's are not problematic. my two cents, from someone who did the very thing (and got an excelletn trade and new price on a honda pilot) after forking over $3000 on a new tranny and radiator and then experiencing noises and potential failure on the new tranny within 5K miles.
  • Here is a "Must Read" article about the MDX & Pilot transmission problems:
  • prijayprijay Posts: 26
    2003 MDX with 95,000 miles transmission failed 2 weeks ago with no warning whatsoever, Just got the transmission fixed form the Acura dealer, Honda picked up 75% of the cost but still i had to fork out $1000 for my share. The new tranny came with 3 years / 36,000 mile warranty. Initially Honda wanted to pick up 50% of the cost but i stood firm and told them i need them to pick up more and finally settled for 75% Honda/ 25% Me, still not happy but better than paying $4500 for a new tranny. Also got the timing belt and water pump changed when i got the tranny fixed. Not sure how long i will keep the car but want to use it for at least 1 - 2 years more, hopefully it will not give any more problems. Members please chime in if i need to know anything more since i plan to use the car for 1 - 2 years, will it last without any issues? Please comment based on your experience
  • Where is the dealer located that helped you out? I called my nearest dealer (90 miles away) and need to take it there for a test drive. Not thrilled about taking day off work to have it checked. Suprised that dealer stood behind replacement with age and miles on the vehicle. We want to keep the MDX but reluctant to do so knowing all the potential problems even after it gets repaired.
  • prijayprijay Posts: 26
    I am located in South Florida and the dealer is Rick Case Acura, but it is up to you to present your case, the dealer in my case only submitted the paperwork to Honda, i had to talk to Acura Client Care and the Service manager at the dealership to let them know that there is a issue in the MDX transmission and Honda is aware of it.

    First of all you need to find out if it is a transmission problem. If it is then read this forum which has all the info you need to make and present your case, that is exactly what i did.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "...shudders..goes away when I accelerate..."

    Your torque converter's lockup clutch is failing.

    While you'll likely have to have the TC replaced you can avoid future failures by disabling the SH-AWD system except when you have expectation or suspecion that it will be needed.

    The SH-AWD system, in effect, LOCKS the "virtual" center diff'l even on highly tractive surfaces, a serious NO-NO for an actual 4WD. Worse yet, it LOCKS that diff'l EVEN when turning and/or turning while accelerating. Having the SH-AWD system's rear drive capability engaged on a tractive surface along with the front drive will ALWAYS result in some level of drive line windup and/or tire scrubbing. Engaging both front and rear drive when turning tightly or accelerating into a turn, PURE STUPIDITY(***)...!!

    Apparently the lockup clutch in the TC just happens to be the weakest link in the MDX drive train.

    *** Actually the really stupid part is the engineers trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear, converting a base FWD vehicle, PATENTLY UNSAFE FWD, into a F/awd compromise.
  • Will it make any dirrerence if i get fluid changed to prolong the failure? To disable the AWD do i simply push the button on the dash that has the four wheels on it?
  • godb4markygodb4marky Posts: 4
    edited November 2010
    I have a 2001 Acura MDX Touring with factory tow package that had 196,000 low impact HIGHWAY miles on it before the transmission went out. The transmission fluid was flushed & filled every 30,000 miles, I drove it lile a grama (never accellerated to force a downshifted), & never towed anything really heavy or very far. The transmission gave all the classic signs of going out (dark fluid, metal shavings on drain plug, hard / jerky shifting, delayed shifting (with rpm acceleration until gear was met), and even tires chirping from improper shifting on a long mountainous trip towards the end of its life. When it finally went out I was on a local trip on the freeway, jerky shifting turned into only having a very jerky 1st, 2nd, 3rd gears & reverse gear. I limped it back to my garage, did research, & got estimates. The "Ball Acura" dealer here in San Diego, CA quoted me just over $5,000 to include a the installation of a rebuilt transmission unit, rebuilt torque converter unit, and refurbished computer (the computers are not the problem) , with a 36,000 mile parts & labor warranty. This price did not include a new, larger transmission cooler. The small original transmission coolers are evidenced to be the root cause of the MDX transmission problems in the first place (overheating). Next I looked at (essentially the google of junkyard car parts), & found that the best they could offer was a used transmission with 97,000 miles on it for $1,500 without the torque converter, transmission cooler, or computer, not including installation, and only with a 30 day parts only limited warranty. Next I tried getting auto shop quotes on rebuilding my original transmission, torque converter, and replacing the tiny, inadequate original transmission cooler with a larger, upgraded, and adequate cooler. I received quotes from $6,500 with no warranty, to $1,600 with a 36,000 mile towing, parts, & labor warranty from Sunrise Auto in San Diego. I went with Sunrise Auto for obvious reasons. I now have my MDX transmission and torque converter fully rebuilt; I also have a brand new transmission cooler installed, & I am covered by a full 36,000 warranty on towing, parts, labor, & even a free loaner car if I need one. All this for $1,600 cash. I almost fainted when I saw the original transmission cooler that they pulled out. It looked like 2 small black sticks. When I saw the new one they installed, I was very impressed, as it looked like 4 solid, beefy, silver, branches like a real cooler should. Btw, the new coolers are inexpensive and VERY effective. If you do not have the new, larger, and upgraded cooler on your 01-06 MDX then GET one. They are not expensive, they actually do what their name says (transmission coolers), they save your transmission from death (9 out of 10 transmissions on every car fail due to overheating). $100 bucks now will save you thousands down the road. Read the reviews and listen to people who have been there. The original coolers in 01-06 are garbage (factory tow package or not), shame on Honda for using the same sized coolers as their civics in a 3.5L V-6 engine. Also, change the transmission fluid regularly, and do it right. Its the one procedure that you want to do by the book (drain & fill 3x). Lastly, don't pay $5,000 at the dealer for them to remove your transmission system, replace it with someone elses rebuilt transmission system, and not install an upgraded cooler, and then turn around and rebuild the one you gave to them so they can charge someone else $5,000 to put it into their car. Get quotes, get a 36,000 mile warranty, & have a good, fair mechanic rebuild, & reinstall your transmission, torque converter, & put in a nice, big, adequate transmission cooler. Thanks for reading & God bless. I'm out.
  • Get a new, adequate transmission cooler, & change the transmission fluid regularly [(every 30,000 miles, & do it properly (flush & fill 3x)]. From my experience, pushing the "vtm-4" button doesn't help. Also, read my full posting below for my experience.
  • Hello!
    I wondered if anyone else has this problem. I own a 2001 mdx with 88,000 miles. For 2 yrs now, everytime I shift from park to reverse there is a loud banging noise. I have had it checked by the acura mechanic several times. once they replaced a "block" that held the transmission(sorry, I am car illiterate). The problem continues and now they say it is a "normal" banging. Where is this Banging coming from when I shift from park to reverse? Should I be concerned or is it normal as they say? I might add that I have owned the car since 2001, have NEVER missed a recommended service, and besides the loud bang, the car runs very well. thanks for any suggestions.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    A new, more adequate ATF cooler will undoubtedly serve to keep the ATF at a lower operating temperature. But that doesn't address the base problem, what, whatever, is causing the ATF to overheat in the first place.

    And my guess is that is due to the overstressing, HEATING, of the drive train components due to driveline windup and/or tire scrubbing resulting from the inappropriate engagement of the rear drive on tractive surfaces.

    You can extend the life of your transaxle by disabling the SH-AWD system except at times of need or suspected need.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    edited November 2010
    "..Get a new, adequate transmission cooler, "

    It is very likely that a more "adequate" cooler may be if no help as there is likely a thermostat involved in limiting or regulating the flow to the external cooler in order to:

    1) Allow the ATF temperature to rise as quickly as possible such that OD can/will be used.

    2) Prevent the ATF temperature from falling below operational, 200F, temperature.

    Most modern day transaxles have a temperature sensor within the transaxle so the driver can/will be forewarned if the ATF temperature begins to rise too high.

    Your ATF is overheating due to some sort of LOCALIZED internal component STRESS. In this case there is now reason to suspect that to be the TC lockup clutch.

    Also, due to the fairly recent major change to transaxle designs, real-time control of ATF line pressure, the long term failures may be due to the inability to support two gear changes in quick succession. One of the early fixes, circa RX330 introduction, for that design flaw was to use DBW to prevent the onset of rising engine torque until the downshift clutches can be fully and firmly engaged.
  • The transmission failed and the dealer quoted $4,400 to replace with a 3 yr 36,000 mile warranty rebuilt transmission. After negotiation with Acura for an out-of-warranty subsidy, we settled at a payment of $2,650.

    In the negotiations, I said:
    -the transmission was flawed from the factory
    -Acura knew this
    -Acura had paid for others out-of-warranty
    -I had been in touch with class action lawyers

    I hope this helps somebody else.
  • Great job! How did you start the process with Acura, and it would be great if you could provide contact info there.

    Thanks for your help!
  • We have 98k on our 2003 MDX and it was diagnosed 100% to have a converter problem by the local trans shop. Changed fluid but had little effect on the shudder at low speeds. Nearest dealer 90 miles and they quoted $2600 to replace converter, local trans shop $1500 and local mechanic $800. The converter cost is $200 but shops charge as much as $1200 for the same new unit! Acura might help with cost but i have to have it done at Acura dealership. The shop guys tell me the converter problem will not hurt the transmission but i decided to get it fixed and not take a chance of a total breakdown.
  • gmezagmeza Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Acura MDX that now has 202,000 miles. For the last several years I have complained about the transmission not down shifting around 35 MPHs. It lugs to the point I have to manually down shift. I have also had it disengage when I attempt to accelerate after stopping at a stop sign. I have to manually move the the stick shift until it engages into drive--very dangerous.
    I have brought these problems to the attention of the manager in the service department and because it's an intermittent problem, they could not replicate it. So, nothing could be done.
    Recently both problems have become more frequent. I took it back to the Acura dealer's service department. They drove it and said I needed a tork converter. They informed me they do not replace these, but only replace the transmission at a cost of $4,100. When I informed them of my past complaints, they said they had no record of my complaints and that I should realize that having a transmission go out at 200,000 miles is not uncommon. One of the managers also said he checked and Acura had no recalls with 2003 MDX transmissions. Obviously I have found this site and have determined there have been a lot of problems with Honda/Acura transmissions.
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